Up next in the TSHQ NHL previews is the Atlantic Division.
The Atlantic Division is routinely one of the most competitive divisions in hockey. This will be quite an interesting year as picking how the division will pan is going to be tough. There’s really only one team that I’m comfortable with placing…
New York Islanders
You have to appreciate where the Islanders are headed. No, they’re not yet ready to seriously compete in the Atlantic, but they’re well on their way of being a tough team in the East. That said, they’ll be no pushover this year and teams will have to earn their wins against them.
The Isles are hoping that young franchise player Jonathan Tavares is about ready to take that next step in his development. In his first two seasons in the NHL, he’s scored 54 and 67 points, which is pretty good for the 21 year without having many big names about him. He’ll have the help of promising young forwards Matt Moulson and Michael Grabner. Moulson’s coming off two straight 30+ goal seasons and Grabner burst out of nowhere to score 34 goals last season. If Grabner can prove that he’s no flash in the pan, the Islanders have three talented young players to build their future around up front.
After those three players, the talent begins to dwindle a bit for the Islanders. Their top second tier players are PA Parenteau and Kyle Okposo. Parenteau’s coming off a decent year, but he’s not exactly the type of player you want to lean on for steady offensive production. Okposo came to the Islanders under much anticipation, but unless he has a big year this season, he might start to wear out his welcome. Granted he did have a good year two years ago before having his season cut short last season. You just have to wonder if he’s going to produce like he was cracked up to.
Nino Niederreiter is the next player on Islanders fans’ list to be the rookie who tears it up. El Nino could be good, but winning the Rookie of the Year award will be tough for the 19 year old.
Also, with Trevor Gilles still on the roster, you have to wonder how seriously the Islanders take themselves.Get the rest here.